Legions and service clubs will once again be able to host card tournaments

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It looks like cribbage and euchre will be back on the North Bay Elk’s Club board.

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The new charity gaming options announced this week will benefit Royal Canadian Legions and service clubs across the province, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said.

And this news couldn’t make Suzanne Amyotte happier.

Amyotte, exalted ruler of the local Elk’s Lodge, said on Friday the lodge will apply for the new free social gaming license and card players may be back in the coming months.

She was the lodge person in charge of the weekly tournaments, and when she took over “it was legal, I was told, so it was illegal. We had to stop completely ”the tournaments which often filled 20 tables.

“Now we have maybe seven or eight tables” in the afternoons when members and guests get together to play cards.

Since they were dropped over two years ago, she said, “people have been asking us ‘when are you going to do the nursery tournaments again?'”

Local service clubs that had held card tournaments were told in 2018 by an Alcohol and Gaming Commission inspector of Ontario that they could lose their liquor licenses if they continued with these tournaments.

Card tournaments – cribbage, euchre, and bridge – have been classified as “games of chance” and are illegal if players have to pay a fee to play or receive prizes.

The games were not recognized by the province as qualifying events.

Tournaments weren’t making a lot of money. The Elk’s Club “never made any money on it”, with registration fees being paid on a pro rata basis, although it may have made money from the sale of snacks, soup or bar, Amyotte said.

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The new rules will allow Legion branches and service clubs to host “low stakes games and progressive jackpot lotteries,” Fedeli said in a press release.

“The Legions are there for Veterans and our community when we need them, and it is important that we do everything we can to help them thrive.

“By allowing service organizations like the legions to run low stakes games and run more raffles, we are giving people more options to support veterans here at home.”

The province is offering a new free social gaming license that will allow legions and other local community groups to host low-stakes games like bridge, euchre and bingo. Legions and charities will also benefit from new fundraising opportunities through progressive jackpot lotteries (loonie and tonie).

Groups can apply for the Social Gaming License through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario online portal starting December 1.

The progressive jackpot draws will be authorized by local municipalities or First Nations with an Order in Council, and will be available in the coming weeks.

“It’s very nice,” Amyotte said, and while the COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, “we’re really interested in doing something” if the lodge gets a license.

Under the new provincial rules, all licensees and participants will be required to comply with proof of vaccination requirements, physical distancing measures and other public health measures.

The Progressive Jackpot Lottery is a paper-based multiple draw game where the prize, if not won, is carried over from one draw to the next. Tickets can cost up to $ 2 to play. For this raffle, there is a maximum prize of $ 2,500 at which point the pot must be awarded and the raffle begins again.

The types of games allowed under the new social gaming license will include games such as euchre, cribbage, bridge and bingo. Casino type games will be excluded. All prizes are to be paid to the players, less a nominal charge to the organizer to cover expenses. This license cannot be used as a source of income or fundraising.

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